The CIO – the man behind the cloud. But, what cloud solution will really transform business?

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Today it is generally accepted that businesses large and small are actively embracing cloud computing. Speculation is over and today companies are getting down to the real business of incorporating cloud services and platforms into formal IT portfolios.

Cloud is no longer seen as just a nice to have; it’s considered an enabler of business transformation – with even Gartner predicting most enterprises will have adopted cloud by the end of 2013.

Tasked with looking beyond IT that will simply get the job done, the CIO is the person driving this transformation and making decisions with the wider business context in mind. In fact, by 2015, IDC estimates that 90% of IT investments will be evaluated based on the strategic goals of a business, which means that the role of the CIO is set to become not only very challenging but much more strategically important than it is already.

Today, the challenge dominating many CIO agendas is centered on the cloud and deciding which of the options available will best. 

First and foremost it is necessary to decide whether public or private cloud options work best for the business. The first option allows a business to install and customise software on its own computers that reside on-site in a private datacentre. Or, the business can receive computing services from a third party via the cloud.  Using this second option, computing now acts like a utility. In the same way people moved from generators to the grid for electricity over a century ago, people are now paying for cloud services as they use them.

The consumption of services through the cloud can provide businesses with much-needed economies of scale and enable business to free up fiscal and manpower resource which can be better focused on core competencies. Using on-site servers, meanwhile, requires greater up-front investment and specialist skills to get up and running, but provide businesses with direct control over the asset and the information – still greatly prized by business.

Given that there are advantages to both models, CIOs have come to realise that the answer doesn’t reside in one or the other, but rather a mesh of the two. As a result, the majority of CIOs are opting for a “hybrid” approach – combining the adoption of cloud services alongside their existing on-site products in their infrastructures.

Because there is no ‘one size fits all’, it is essential that CIOs take the best of both worlds and incorporate the flexibility inherent in the cloud – allowing businesses to scale IT requirements in line with their needs and also have the control offered by on premise assets.

However, with so many cloud vendors in the market, it can be quite tricky for CIOs to know who to choose or how to connect with them. As a result, CIOs have started to take cloud adoption one step further by seeking out a flexible infrastructure that can allow the switch between cloud providers should the need arise.

In today’s fast paced business environment, the CIO has more influence when it comes to implementing business transformation technology than ever before. With cloud at the forefront, CIOs need to ensure that they are maximizing their investment and making decisions that not only allow flexibility, but also ensure they continue to drive innovation within their organisations. When it comes to cloud it’s essential that CIOs keep their options open and multi-tenant data centres are providing them with the flexibility they so greatly need when it comes to doing so.

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